If you’re strolling around any part of London it’s likely you’ll come across the ceramic blue plaques that denote where cultural and historical figures lived, worked or had significant moments in their lives. Administered by English Heritage, the plaques have been hand made by the same family for over 30 years and Huck’s beautifully made short film directed by Cat McShane tracks them down.
Husband and wife team Frank and Sue Ashworth have worked from their Cornwall home since taking over from the previous plaquemaker who died from illness in 1984. After being given the basic recipe for the clay base, the pair have continued to churn out the plaques with the same level of precision and care. But with Frank now in his 80s and recovering from a triple heart bypass, the hope is for their son Justin to take over the family business.
Throughout the film there are shots of the painstaking craftsmanship and dedication needed for the job. There are some lovely moments like when Sue explains how it’s important not to disturb someone’s concentration, while simultaneously interrupting Justin as he fills in the letters saying, “This is all still too thick here.” As well as a great observation on family life, the film reminds us of the importance of preserving skills like this and the need to pass them down to the next generation.
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